Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Garden Tuesday - Garbage Can Potatoes!

Welcome to Garden Tuesday at It’s All Gouda. Do you enjoy Greek Mythology? As a youngster, I was enraptured with those larger than life stories. I clearly remember the first time I turned the pages of the story about Persephone and Demeter, and how their personal joys and sorrows caused the seasons. I was totally swept up in Demeter’s overwhelming sorrow due to being separated from her daughter Persephone, which resulted in the cold and dreary months of winter. I rejoiced along with her when Demeter’s sorrow transforms to joy as she is reunited with her daughter for a few short months each year, and the glorious days of summer return to the land.

Well, those of us who reside in the Pacific Northwest are quite familiar with Demeter’s tears for a good portion of the year. But all is not lost. The warm rays of summer’s sun have been blessing my little part of the universe lately, and just like Demeter, my mood has brightened considerably.

Today’s post is actually a tutorial of sorts. (For you homeschoolers out there, this is a great garden project. It works well for any age group.) Years ago when my teenage kidlin’s were wee tots, I read an article in Family Fun magazine about how to grow potatoes in a garbage can. and I was immediately intrigued. I mean how cool would it be to tell your family and neighbors that the potatoes they were eating were grown in such an unusual vessel? Well, to my surprise, a friend of mine actually saw the same article and gave it a go. She’s a very successful gardener, and really raved about this method. This is a great method to produce a very large yield. I tucked this away in my memory banks as something to try.

Fast forward to this past weekend, when I was getting ready to plant my potatoes. I’ve been holding onto these spuds for a while as I particularly liked them and wanted to grow them myself from this particular bunch. It’s been far to wet to plant them until now, so you’ll notice that they’ve sprouted WAY BEYOND what is normally planted. Plus, I usually cut the potatoes up and just plant pieces of them, making sure each piece has a spouted eye on it. Still, these overly zealous sprouted potatoes were in great shape so ... waste not, want not.

Here’s what you need:

1 large plastic garbage can (I used a 20 gallon one which is on the small size. Feel free to go bigger)
Drill for making drainage holes in can
Garden fabric or large rocks, pieces of pottery etc. for blocking draining holes
Gardening Soil – lots
Potatoes that have sprouted. (remember: you can cut the potatoes in half or thirds before planting making sure each piece has a sprouted bit on it)

Let's begin. Gather your kidlin's and let this be their project!Turn your garbage can upside down. Using a power drill, cut out drainage holes in the bottom of your can. Hubbyman did this for me. These holes are small, and so he positioned nine small holes as shown.Next, you’ll need to cover the holes to keep the dirt from coming out just as you would for a potted plant.I choose to use yard fabric, but large stones or pieces of broken pottery would work just fine. Use what you’ve got.

Now dump in about 12” of gardening soil into the bottom of your can, breaking up any large clumps.Place your sprouted potato pieces on the dirt as shown.Cover with about 4” give or take, with additional soil.

Pick out a good book to read and wait for the plants to grow. In fact, you may want to pick out several books. Or take up a new hobby. Or build a deck. Or paint your house ... inside and out.

Ahem. The point is that it will take your plants a few weeks to make an appearance. Once they are about 6” tall or so, add about 3 more inches of soil covering up the leaves and everything on the bottom ½ of the plant. Repeat this process throughout the growing season until the can is almost full. Oh, and be sure to water your garbage can potatoes just as you would the rest of your garden. At the end of the growing season, dig out your potatoes, and wow your family and friends with your tale of the potatoes ala garbage can!

This is a great project for kids. It’s also perfect for those who are new to gardening or who perhaps don’t have a lot of space to grow potatoes in their yard. It’s perfect for patio gardeners, too. Like I mentioned earlier, it will produce a high yield without taking up a lot of space. Best of all, it doesn’t require a lot of hard work at all.Unlike this octo-legged fellow who’s working quite hard on its web.

So what do you think? Care to give garbage can potatoes a try?


Pam said...

I've never heard of garbage can potatoes - my kids would love to do this (and so would I). Thanks for the great information!

Marjie said...

To feed my family, I'm thinking I need a dumpster. What do you think? Dumpster potatoes?

The Blonde Duck said...

That's really neat!

And I'm glad I can keep you in suspense. I try!

Really, I do.

Anonymous said...

LOL it's not just for kids.......my husband got this brainstorm for using tires for spuds doing much the same thing. He was SO proud of his "patch"!

Mrs. L said...

What a great idea. I'll send this to our Godsons parents and see if they would be interested.

OhioMom said...

Synchronicity! I was eyeing a large can the other day and wondering if I could grow taters this way, thanks for the tutorial :)

Robynn's Ravings said...

I have never heard of such a thing and think it sounds hysterical! Just wacky enough to attract my family. We may give this a go. :)

Cathy said...

This is a great idea, Paula. I'm passing it along to my daughter cuz I know my grandchildren would love it. An excellent and fun post. Thanks for sharing.

I hope you are planning a trip to the farmer's market before too long. I'm looking forward to meeting you.

Manggy said...

That is a cool project! Can't wait to see the fruits of your labor! :)

On another note, I thought this was a garden post and a recipe post featuring the most unsavory name for a potato dish ever, ha ha ha :)

Cheryl said...

What a freaking cool idea, i would love to do this! by high yield does that mean 20 or like 100?

Lynda said...

Very, very interesting! I've not heard of this, but I happen to have a large pot, so this would be fun to try. Thanks for a great idea, Paula!

Pam said...

how cool is that!!!

Lo said...

What a cool idea -- and perfect for someone like me who is urban gardening with little space.

So, what's the yield on a garbage pail filled with potatoes? :)

Paula said...

Hello fellow spud-sters!

Pam: It's a great way to get kids involved in growing food!

Marjie: Dumpster potatoes ... I LOVE it! You always make me laugh!

Duckie: You absolutely are the master or should I say mistress of suspense! Have mercy on me! :-)

Linda: Bossman's tire idea is great! He's a man of many talents!

Mrs. L: It's really fun for kids!

Ohio Mom: Cool! I wish my can was bigger as we can never have too many potatoes in this family!

Robynn: I'm all about the wacky and wonderful! :-)

Cathy: It's a great kid project. I'm looking forward to the farmers market ... especially sweet corn and melons!

Mark: I'll need to come up with a recipe that incorporates my spuds lowly origins!

Cheryl: Love Bella as your avatar photo! I also love being looped in the freakin cool category! I'm not sure of the exact yield ... my friend had potatoes coming out her ears.

Lynda: More and more I'm game for growing my own food, so any vessel is worth a try!

Pam: I thought it was cool when I first read about it, too!

Lo: It's perfect for us urban gardeners who value growing food, but have little or no garden space! I've no clue to the actual yield ... my friend told me I'd be up to my ears in spuds!

Grace said...

well this is a new one! what a nifty idea, paula--thanks for sharing it with those us who are woefully green-thumb-less. :)

noble pig said...

I seriously hope after you harvest your potatoes you make a dish called garbage can potatoes and stick it in the Potato Ho Down because that would be really cool.!

Erin said...

I did this last spring after my mom showed my your post. My kids absolutely LOVED doing this. it was such an adventure and the end product was delicious!

We planted both red potatoes and "regular" potatoes. (I'm not much of a gardener, can you tell???)

We followed your directions and voila! Tons and tons of potatoes!

Thanks so much for sharing. We can't wait to grow them again this year!

Teresa said...

I couldn't get your post out of my head so had to try it! I have two garbage cans going. I started them in mid-May, not realizing I should wait til cooler weather. The russets are not cooperating but the Norlander red potatoes are doing great! Thanks for the idea. You can follow their progress on my blog http://midsummeroflife.com.

Anonymous said...

Instead of all top soil try a 40 % leaf mixture.

When grown you can pull the entire plant up without damaging the roots

Pick the spuds you want from the root system

lay the can down and remove a few shovels full of mixture

stand the can back up--put the plant back in--put the mixture back in and have more potatoes for weeks to come

Ernest saeh0007@swbell.net

Anonymous said...

I am starting in morning how long of a yield can I expect?

Anonymous said...

we harvested for 4-5 weeks